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Tactical prowess... or ineptitude?

By Jim Hourigan :  02/02/2011 :  Comments (37) :
I make no bones for the fact that I believe Moyes is tactically inept, is one-dimensional in all that he does, and has been bereft of any new tactical thinking for at least the last 4 years. Those that ?trust in Moyes? clearly believe in his tactical acumen so I wonder how they explain ? in clear footballing terms ? the following:

1. We have now gone 51 away games against the so-called ?Sky 4? without winning a game. Even last night's Arsenal programme made a point of saying it was the longest run by any side in the Premier League. Blackpool, Wigan, WBA, Fulham and Blackburn have won at one of these grounds. So how is that run explained in footballing terms?

Why have we never held a lead? Why have we never come from behind to win? Have we never caught any of these teams on an ?off day? unlike these others?

2. Last night we were under no more pressure going into the last 20 mins than we had been all night. Arsenal, and in particular Walcott and the RB, were not causing any real problems down our left. He then substitutes Bily for Osman. The crowd?s reaction to Billy was generally positive, recognizing that, whilst he may not have pulled up any trees, he was solid, rarely gave the ball away and formed a good defensive foil for Baines. Yes, those that can see nothing in him were not displeased but judging from the crowd?s reaction they were in the minority.

So, Osman out wide to support Baines whilst still winning and not really looking like we were about to capitulate. Why? Osman and pace are not synonymous so how was he going to support Baines in combatting their speed and movement? Bily, for all his critics, showed that a tactical brain alongside average pace can stop youthful exuberance.

3. Jagielka ? a centre-half ? on for a right-back when we are losing. Were we trying to get back into the game? Or did Moyes think we were about to concede a shedload and putting Jags in would stop that? That suggests they were marauding down our right ? sorry, I didn?t see that... so please explain. Perhaps he thought his height would be of help from set pieces ? how many goals has he scored? Perhaps he thought?? well, actually ? what could be his thinking???

4. A centre-forward who scored in the derby, again the following week in the cup, and almost scored in his 2 minute cameo against Chelsea, sits on the bench... and Anichebe comes on! What logic or rational thinking is going on here? Somebody please enlighten me.

Alongside that, Coleman is replaced, thereby depriving us of any natural width on either side of the pitch. Don?t most footballing people believe that width is the most dangerous asset when attacking? If so, does this substitution suggest appeasement and capitulation and no intention to win?

Moving from the footballing issues to the personal. Can somebody explain how anybody who comes across on TV as despondent, lacking enthusiasm and generally morose can inspire players? As human beings, we want to believe in people and want people to believe in us. The need for a positive approach is fundamental to all sportsmen; if you don?t believe you can do it, and those around you don?t believe you can do it, then you won?t.

Sport psychology (amongst other things) is based on attitude and approach and getting players to achieve at the top level relies heavily on it. It might be argued that Moyes may be more enthusiastic when off camera, but does anyone actually believe that?

The recent debacle in the transfer window appears to be reinforcing his pessimism, which is probably being translated to the players. When they see this how will they respond? Last night showed the answer ? brittle confidence and low expectations. We went one up and gradually showed less and less desire to get a second (tactics or fear?).

When we conceded, we knew a second was imminent because there was a lack of passion to stand up and be counted. Don?t get me wrong, the players tried and I have no criticism of them per se, but where was the inner belief that they could hold out? Had it been sapped by the negative vibes Moyes has shown all season and his tactics? How can people follow a leader who appears lacking in belief and lacking in ideas? The players themselves can see what is happening ? Arteta made a point of meeting Bily as he walked off as if to say ?I don?t understand it either mate?. What do they think when Neville is replaced by Jags when were losing with 10 mins to go?

So my final question is ? Where is the justification for keeping Moyes? Please don?t answer ?cos there?s nobody better? because the reality is you don?t know that. How many were jumping up and down with joy when a bloke from Preston who had managed to get to two play-offs (and lose them both ? pointer for the future?) was appointed? For me he is no longer a ?safe pair of hands? ? he?s a liability whose star is most certainly in the descendency.

Reader Comments

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Chris Perry
1   Posted 02/02/2011 at 16:40:11

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Have you noticed how moyes tries to deflect the blame?

After Brentford beat us, it was a bottle throwing thug.

After Arsenal beat us, it's Cesc Fabregas and his vile abuse.

Strange how the ref has not said anything in his report.

Moyes, you are a delinquent. Please go now you excuse making waste of space.
Brian Waring
2   Posted 02/02/2011 at 16:42:57

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Since Pienaar's departure, Baines hasn't looked the same.
Ken Buckley
3   Posted 02/02/2011 at 16:53:19

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Jim . Neville signalled to come off and Coleman was goosed.
Tony Wilson
4   Posted 02/02/2011 at 17:08:08

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Good article Jim.

Sadly, I think it's very difficult to get fans to be critical of their club's manager when there is so much anger being vented towrds the chairman/board.

It's as if the double-whammy of feeling that the board and manager are not going to progress the club is too much for fans to take.

If we have to choose one issue to really push I would second your article and focus on the manager.

Unlike many contributors to this site, I believe that EFC is a first and foremost a commodity that will be sold when the owners are good and ready. Moreover, what position are we in to judge the board when there seems to be an absence of facts, as Rafa Beneathus would say.

Any fans who vehemently disagree, put your money where your mouth is and buy the club. The board will sell if you match their valuation.

Ron Haslam
5   Posted 02/02/2011 at 17:12:47

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Billy 'rarely gave the ball away'. You must havw been watching a different game to me. He was caught in possession so many times that I lost count!! Can you really blame Moyes for Rodwell and Heitinga leaving the Arsenal centre back unmarked to head the winner or do you believe that as a former central defender that's what he coaches them to do!
Denis Richardson
6   Posted 02/02/2011 at 17:33:36

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I am by no means a Moyes fan but do think that medium to longer term the issues (as highlighted many times on this site) lie mainly at board level.

At last an article in the press (almost) asks proper questions of the everton chairman and why he is doing F all in relation to getting funds into the club.

Does not quite go the full distance but at least the general press is now finally getting to the matter of no cash and or futuer strategy, given the appalling transfer activity in the Jan window. The fact that we let 3 first teamers go and could not even afford a loan signing is ridiculous, especially when our squad is alerdy one of the smallest.

This summer something has to give......either Moyes tells BK to shove it or the administrator does!

I for one would like to see a change in manager, with a fresh/more positive approach but will now concentrate on seeing if anything changes at board level. The accounts have to be issued this month (will probably go to the last possible day) and would ne intersting to see if the auditors give a clean bill of health (for a year anyway).

Either way link to BBC article below.
Steve Cotton
7   Posted 02/02/2011 at 18:39:10

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Brian (1). since Pienaar's departure Pienaar hasnt looked the same either
Ian Tunstead
8   Posted 02/02/2011 at 18:17:49

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I have never slagged Moyes on here before but I was absolutely fuming when he brought Osman on, I knew it was game over the moment he stepped on to the pitch, surprise surprise we were 2-1 down with in minutes of his arrival. It was sickening because it was so obvious as to what was about to happen but not to Moyes even though he has watched Osman for so long, its like he has a blind spot.

We were 1-0 up and cruising I thought. Yes bily was losing possession poorly but I still felt there was no threat coming from Arsenal and we were comfortable.

What pisses me off is Moyes usually waits until the 90th minute to make substitutions when changes are clearly needed much earlier. It is always the same formula if we are losing he will bring on strikers, if winning he will bring on defensive players, this all makes perfect sense so why break all his tried and tested rules and put on a midfielder in the wrong position when we are 1-0 up? The one time we don?t need a change he brings on his favourites.

Moyes biggest strength is also his biggest weakness. He is very loyal to his players that work hard or show good attitude, which is why he usually gets the best out of his players but this also means that these same players are unlikely to be dropped unless they are injured or suspended; unfortunately, Osman never seems to get injured or suspended. Osman should not play for Everton unless Fellaini and Arteta are stretchered off the field. How many times do we have to see Everton get torn apart while Osman plays on the wings?

Where was Rodwell playing? He seemed to be up front at times but by the end he seemed to be our deepest defender. A couple of times I saw him playing Arsenal on side in dangerous positions when he should have been further up field.
Andy Crooks
9   Posted 02/02/2011 at 18:40:28

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Absolutely excellent piece, Jim. David Moyes and Bill Kenwright have looked after each other. Moyes has a well paid job for life. He doesn't need to win anything, he just has to show enough to suggest that with money he might. This is wrong. He has proved time and time again that he is a crisis coach with a negative mindset. Last night his tactics were utterly inexplicable.
Kenwright has bought himself a coach who will stay silent and will keep Everton in the premier league. The media love both of them and ,sadly so do too many Evertonians.
It will take a lot of points to stay up this season. A decent West Ham side went down with something like 43. There problem wasn't too many defeats , it was the failure to turn too many draws into wins. Ring any bells?
Leon Perrin
10   Posted 02/02/2011 at 17:28:21

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Jim<, Moyes is a very lucky man, around when managerial talent is at it's worst, media punditry toothless, with a pliant timewaster of a chairman paying him a disproportionate salary.

He's never challenged in the national press because we are of no interest having morphed into coventry/southampton/charlton (delete as required) under his watch and drifts under the news radar.

The Walter Smith/agent Johnson combo drained the last vestiges of passion from diehards of Nil Satis so the Moyes party piece of organised journeymen primed for defence has been tolerated.

A means to an end, but a long term strategy?

He should have went years ago, if he'd had decent judgement he would've known himself, but that's the Moyes problem-his decision making is poor.

He's a limited man who has been very very lucky.

Mike Price
11   Posted 02/02/2011 at 18:42:39

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I have never really liked Moyes. Very quickly I thought he was over-rated and limited, and I still don't get the almost lemming like support he gets from so many Evertonians.His record against the old 'big 4' is a total disgrace, a complete embarrassment and just about, a sacking offence by itself.
His tactical acumen is a joke, his use of significant funds to purchase 'bigger' players a disgrace, he destroys strikers because of the horrible systems he plays, he's stubborn to a major fault, he can't see that Hibbert, Osman and Anichibe are a waste of space and money,he never buys pace, he distrusts skill, he barks orders to premier players all game long...he never made the grade, so let them fucking play!; he's dour and boring and Everton reflect his personility right now. I resent that I have had to suffer this for 9 years of my life...thats a big percentage of all our blue following lives and the sooner he leaves the better.
James Stewart
12   Posted 02/02/2011 at 19:03:35

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Good piece however I don't agree on Bily he was poor and gave the ball away a lot. Part of that is down to him not being a winger though so you can blame him to much for being unhappy stuck out there!

The substitutions were beyond ridiculous. The way Moyes treats forwards is poisonous and were I a striker I would really not want to play under Moyes. Strikers need runs of games and to get into confidence/rhythm. Beckford was in form and then dropped as was Yakubu. Anichebe on the other hand is one of the worst players ever to play in the EPL and that is not exaggerating he really is that bad. Fitting the match ended with him trying to cross the ball and missing it completely.
The Jagielka sub I have no idea what the hell Moyes was thinking and can anyone explain it because I can't! Moyes was inept last night and it's ashame because the Fellaini performance was masterful and he deserved to be on the winning side.
Lee Courtliff
13   Posted 02/02/2011 at 19:22:31

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I wasn't suprised at all that just a few minutes after the equaliser Aresnal got another one.It's happened many times.I didn't even bother watching us on Football First last night.It really is draining supporting us these days.Still,we might win the cup???
Gerry Western
14   Posted 02/02/2011 at 19:38:40

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I was absolutely gutted at Osman's introduction, we simply fell apart down our left flank. I found the whole thing exasperating if only for the predictability of the outcome. Up to his introduction I honestly felt we would get a result but immediately following the substitutions it looked as though we might get totally overrun at one stage.
Dave Wilson
15   Posted 02/02/2011 at 20:12:46

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I so love these stats from people trying their hardest to discredit David Moyes. "51 games" eh jim ?

When David Moyes arrived here his squad was an absolute joke, for all Walter Smiths experience he could do nothing with it, relegation was an absolute certainty.

Moyes gave Evertonians back their pride, he was able to get performances out of players other managers could only dream of. but he was always outgunned by the big boyes.

The misleading stats that Moyes`s critics like to throw up whenever we have lost may fool the goldfish or the very easily led, but the rest of us will seem them for what they are and dismiss them with the contempt they deserve. It may suit some to want to bury the facts under Deliberately misleading stats, but like tens thousands of Evertonians I will not be fooled.

For a high percentage (100 ) of the games Moyes has gone into against the top 4, his counterpart has enjoyed a monumental advantage. DM`s critics choose to forget that we were sending people like Bent, Pistone, and Davies into battle against players like Bergkamp, Vierra, Essien, Gerrard, Giggs, Zola, Alonso. . . they forget that When the Arsenal back four were footballs toughest nut, we were asking Thomas Radzinsky to crack it. . . .they forget than When Henry raced through at warp factor 6, we were asking Stubsie and Davey Weir to catch him !
They forget all of that, throw up mere stats, scratch their heads and wonder why we always got beat . .

Without Funds Davey moyes has slowly but surely built us a decent team. Of course he is 5-6 really important pieces short of completing the jigsaw and it looks like he wont ever get the chance, but if you really want to measure his performances against the top teams you can always stick with bare facts.Look at Redknaps record against him, look at SAF`s recent record against him, think of the 4 points against Rs this season and dont waste your time trying to remember when Ancelotti or Mancini outsmarted him.

Accept defeat against Gracefully, They are a top side, losing to top sides happens, even to the greatest coaches .

If you want to judge moyes`s record agaist the top boys do it over recent seasons . .then give us the list of managers who have bettered it, that wont take long to compile and you wont have to worry about your memory letting you down.

Btw Jim : Bily was having a weston, I dont know where you were but everyone around me was screaming for him to come off, Arsenal were begining to treat him like he wasnt there and Neville asked to come off too . . but hey lets get the stats out, facts are nowhere near as damning
Paul Baxter
16   Posted 02/02/2011 at 22:28:59

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There is an excellent analysis of last night's game on zonal that illustrates well what Moyes got right and wrong.
John Shaw
17   Posted 02/02/2011 at 22:32:51

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I wholeheartedly agree with both Ken (2) and Ron (4).
Dick Fearon
18   Posted 02/02/2011 at 22:23:58

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To the growing number that are starting to see Osman the way I have been going on about for years that he is the slowest, weakest player in any division. He can't sprint, shoot, head, tackle and does not have a scintilla of presence. For the most part he makes no impact, he goes missing for long periods.
Despite all of his faults I do not and never have put any blame on his shoulders. I am quite sure that Leon does everything humanly possible for one with what little he has to offer.
Instead of clouding the issue with rants about what Fabregas said off the pitch Moyes could do better to explain why he made three totally stupid substitutions.
Brendan McLaughlin
19   Posted 02/02/2011 at 23:06:58

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"When we conceded, we knew a second was imminent because there was a lack of passion to stand up and be counted. Don?t get me wrong, the players tried and I have no criticism of them per se, but where was the inner belief that they could hold out?"
Are you a social worker per chance Jim? Funny when I read the paragraph quoted above I was reminded of the old lyric "When the going gets tough, the tough get going,,,"
Richard Jones
20   Posted 02/02/2011 at 23:45:08

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Dave Wilson...genuinely nice to hear the voice of reason!
Mick MacManus
21   Posted 02/02/2011 at 23:38:50

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I was very disapointed to see Bily go off. Osman's a squad player at best. As for the other two subs, none of us really know if it was tactical (in that case a bad decision) or was it that they were suffering from an injury /knock of some kind (then the subs had to be made). Becks should have come on for Coleman though, that's for sure.

I thought the players didnt show any kind of dis-spirit after the tranfer window, quite the opposite actually. Bar the last 20 minutes we played well.

I think Moyes is more into his modern sports pyschology than many other British managers. Any decent sports article I read about him over the last few years (e.g. Observer Sports Magazine) have emphasied this.

I believe Moyes is the only thing that's holding the club together, despite the shocking lack of support from the board. He's clearly a man of the highest integrity. He's not going to get every decision right, but what manager does?
Peter Bourke
22   Posted 02/02/2011 at 23:56:19

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Dave Wilson 15. Bang On.
it is easy to assume things when you are not privy to all the facts and a lot of the time things may not be as they appear. You cannot simply say that a certain decision made by DM was good or bad when you are not privy to all the facts. For example you wouldn't be aware if a player during the half time break said to DM i can only last another 10 or 15 minutes or i have an injury that is troubling me.
It's very easy to be judge and jury from the stands but unless you are aware of all the facts it is pointless speculating about why certain decisions are made. Ask "why" yes, but to judge is tactically inept on your behalf.
Dick Fearon
23   Posted 03/02/2011 at 00:12:29

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Peter #22, If it was the case that Moyes had no alternative subs he should bloody well say so and not prattle on about Fabregas.
Jay Harris
24   Posted 03/02/2011 at 01:31:10

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Have to agree with Dave Wilson #15.

What other manager has spent the same or less than Moyes and achieved consistent top 6 places even O'Neill that everbody raves about could not finish above Moyes over the course of their respective Premiership management. 3 LMA awards speak for themselves especially when they were achived under Kenwright's regime.

However I do think that his star is fading now that all the bullshit has worn him down but give the man his due he has put more into EFC over the last 9 years than anybody.
Andy Peers
25   Posted 03/02/2011 at 02:32:52

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Dave Wilson and friends, did you agree with the Subs at Arsenal? I didn,t. Furthermore there has never been a point in any game of this season that I would have played Osman. Bily did not have a good game but we were winning and seemed to be untroubled. Then out of nowhere came the 3 most bone head substitutions I have ever seen at Everton.
Roman Sidey
26   Posted 03/02/2011 at 01:17:53

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Peter Bourke, good point that we don't hear what's going on in the sheds, but bad use of an example. So far Moyes hasn't made any subs after 10-15 minutes of the restart. Moyes uses subs constantly after 35-45 minutes. You tell me that a player might say, "I'll be good for most of the half but the last bit."

Paul Baxter - thanks for the link. It was a good analysis. The telling bit was how it showed Bily and Coleman shutting down's their wingers, which helps the defence that you don't just judge a player while he's on the ball - I'm talking about Bily here.

His game wasn't terrible - had he have had a longer run this season, I think he could have a had a couple of goals in this game from his chances - but wasn't great on the ball. Off the ball, he is smart and moves in the right places. Compare that with his replacement - I'm not even saying his name anymore because he no longer exists to me as a footballer - who runs around like a chook with it's head cut off while not in possession, and runs like a crab when in possession.
John Daley
27   Posted 03/02/2011 at 02:53:59

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"I so love these stats from people trying their hardest to discredit David Moyes. "51 games" eh jim ?"

Yeah. 51 games without even snatching one win. Pretty unbelievable I know.

"It may suit some to want to bury the facts under Deliberately misleading stats.."

To say we have not won in 51 away games against the 'big 4' is not misleading at all David. Is it an untruth? An exaggeration? No, it is a fact. A fact you have chosen to counteract with feeble excuses. Managers with far worse players than Stubbs, Weir , Radzinski et al at their disposal have come away with victories against these sides in the past. As Jim says, Wigan, Blackpool, West Brom have all managed to overcome the top sides " monumental advantage" in recent times. Just because David Moyes hasn't managed to do so does not make it Mission Impossible.

" Davey moyes has slowly but surely built us a decent team. Of course he is 5-6 really important pieces short of completing the jigsaw"

So he's only built half a team then David?

"look at SAF`s recent record against him"

Let's look at the overall record. Two wins in 9 years.

"think of the 4 points against Rs this season "

...but don't mention the fact we haven't won once at Anfield during his reign. Suppose you agree with his assertion that we should be saying it is 'incredible' for Everton to even come away with a draw against the mutated neighbours these days?
John Daley
28   Posted 03/02/2011 at 03:52:24

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Apologies for constantly calling you David, Dave.
Roman Sidey
29   Posted 03/02/2011 at 14:05:20

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Good work John. It isn't misleading at all. If Wolves and Blackpool can do it this season, and we can't... Moyes has never believed that we could do it. This season and last we probably could/should have won away to Arsenal, but Moyes has never said this. All he says is "we probably deserved something." He's the problem.
Jim Hourigan
30   Posted 03/02/2011 at 15:44:42

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I notice no one has provided a footballing reason for the tactics. I stand by what I said in that Billy did not have a crap game and those around me - block 23 row 25 - after some of the usual anti Billy stuff began to accept he was doing a decent job stopping them. Yes he gave the ball away when in possession far too often, but felli's passing was poor at times, coleman's last touch was poor far too often, arteta largely disappeared in the second half so Billy was no better or worse. However what did leman do?

No one else saw Neville asking to come off but I have no problem accepting that but with 10 mns to go surely he should have gone to win the game and brought Beckford on putting Coleman back. If Coleman was knackered he was still getting closer than Rodwell to his man so what's his excuse? Too many people trying to make excuses instead of facing facts - he's had 9 years and we are now stagnating.

Ps I'm not a social worker !!!
Jim Hourigan
31   Posted 03/02/2011 at 16:01:15

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Don't know who leman is !!! Should have read osman but my spell checker refuses to accept his name !!!
Dave Wilson
32   Posted 03/02/2011 at 16:43:16

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Did you have a few before the game ?

60 thousand people saw Neville signal to come off, Two on this thred alone.
Jim Hourigan
33   Posted 03/02/2011 at 22:29:50

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No, Dave, no beers and nothing else. No-one around us saw it but, as I said, I've no issue with it. However, would you like to explain the substitution when we're 2-1 down with 10 mins to go... instead of prattling on about whether I saw it or not?
Dale Hathaway
34   Posted 03/02/2011 at 23:36:10

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I personally think that the 'Moyesiah' needs to take some gardening leave. He clearly is not going to walk out on one of the most lucrative salaries in the country. We need an injection of life, passion, commitment and downright hunger.

I have looked at the zonalmarking website and just look at the line ups for first and second halves. For the love of God why do we have 10 players in our own half, we should have pressed for a second goal.
David Moyes has consistently failed to make match changing substitutions. He sends the team out with the intention not to lose. Well that is great but, we need to win some games too! Attack minded players have become defensively minded. The players dont look bothered anymore, but for that I blame Moyes. Why is Arteta still gracing the team week in week out?

I would happily let him see out the remainder of his multi million pound contract if he could just show me that he still has the passion for the 'people'. Does he give a shit that we worship everything Everton and that we live and breath for success on the pitch? Does he care that we have opinions on what may work on the pitch (his tactics generally aren't)? Does he give a flying fuck for anyone at Everton? If he sent a team out to win games I will forgive him and become a loyal Moyes supporter. Knowing that he can't/ won't, I guess it's just time for him to JOG ON!

On a much lighter and far more positive note. Pleasing to see that the financial records were posted at the end of Jan (approx 2 months late I believe). Still cloak and dagger as to when they will be released. But better still the club made an 'official announcement' regarding this. Hopefully a sign that they see a growing number of fans using forums such as this one to voice concerns. They must know their time is coming to an end. I am personally worried that administration is looming.
Tony Wilson
35   Posted 04/02/2011 at 00:40:56

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John daley, exellent riposte.

It is a shame that so many other posters try to undermine broad arguments with pedantic attacks on non-critical supporting points.

I wrote an article called risk management not long ago, which was slaughtered before readers even got to the crux of the matter.

Put simply, moyes' negativity (4-6-0 at Arsenal!) is not only dull but also very unconvincing as a long-term strategy.

I would rather get twatted 4-0 and feel proud of the team than watch the counter attacking shit house dross a la City away.

Maybe Spanish football is the answer. Anyone know any good teams out there that wear blue?
Dave Wilson
36   Posted 04/02/2011 at 12:40:33

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Bily didn't find a blue shirt all night, he continually lost possession and offered no fight at all. It wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference if he was took off and not replaced, he was a complete passenger.

Your desire to blame Moyes is obvious, but the substitutions did not cost us the game; individual defensive errors did ? I take it you saw them.
Tommy Coleman
37   Posted 04/02/2011 at 16:32:37

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I'd like Moyes to give Bily the chance to play up front rather than on the wing. Bily states that he's played there before and I'd actually give him a free role.

I'd play Arteta on the left wing as I don't think he's playing well enough in the middle plus I think he's link up with Baines just like Pienaar did.

Rodwell, Fellaini and Coleman would fill the rest of the midfield.

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